The northeast fell even faster, if you can believe that. I entered AREWEALONE for "Question of humanity that has never been answered" and HEARS for "Gets word" right off both clues. I thought the latter was an especially apt C/AP. Add STAPLES for "Big box store that sells boxes" to get STAPH and fill in ARENA, and before you know it a solver PENETRATES a quadrant.
In the southeast, I was helped by having recently completed some older crossword puzzles in a book my aunt had. I didn't know Martin RITT, but as he just appeared in one of those puzzles, I was able to enter his name, which helped with the unusual - to me - NUTLETS - crazy word, but kinda cute. In the southwest, 'PICS' appeared again in the as part of WAREPICS ("'Saving Private Ryan' or 'Apocalypse Now'"), which my brain insisted on parsing as WARE PICS. Derp.
And speaking of apt, "Sickens with sweetness" for CLOYS I thought was apt. Apt! More so than even READE as a surname for a librarian, because I happen to know that not all librarians take a book. "Kowtowed (to)" and (TOADIEDUP) are fun words on both the C & A sides, although I can't say I've ever heard the preposition "up" used with toadied.
My favorite clue today was "Superhero misidentification" (ITSAPLANE). Hi - lar - i - ous. I'm on the fence about SOOTS as a verb for "covers with chimney grime. It seems like a bit of a stretch, but it also seems somehow to suit. Fill-wise, I liked VETOPOWER, SIDEBAR, CLOSEINON, and RIFER - you don't see that word every day.
I'm sure, Dear Readers, that you are all agog to find out what happened in the northwest. The short of it is that despite all the Down answers I had, I couldn't complete the top left section. Here's why: I guessed 'grEeNBLUE' for "Water color" at 15A and since the 'green' part fit with two Down clues that I was pretty confident of, and, it seemed to match the clue, it took me quite a while to decide to take it out. Once I did, and with HOTTOPICS ("Everyone's talking about them") finally filled in, I was able to see the trixy answer HOST for "Hope at the Oscars, e.g." and the rest, as they say, is history.